Our Travel Photography Tips Which Will Make You a Pro
In this blog we look at techniques you, as a budding travel photographer, should be using and little tips/tricks to get the most out of your pics.
We think a photograph can be a very powerful thing. Looking at a photo can really take you back to that moment. You can remember the smells, the feelings, the views… all captured on a little piece of paper or, most likely, on your insta.
As the saying goes... a picture says a thousand words.
There’s a lot that goes into a good photo. It takes practise and timing… but there are a few techniques which are going to accelerate your photography game immediately.
In this blog we look at the techniques you, as a budding travel photographer, should be using and little tips/tricks to get the most out of your pics.
Let’s get back to basics
When setting up, it’s good to go back to the basics. Simple things can make all the difference when snapping.
Ensure your camera is level
Making sure your camera is level is an important place to start. Wonky horizons can really mess with your composition. There is something very unnerving when looking at a photo which is a bit askew.
Use what you see through the lense to align your photo. Whether it be the straight rooftop of a building, the horizon or, if nothing stands out, use the settings on your camera.
A great setting to use is the grid on your camera. Use the lines to help you straighten your image and level up.
Hold the camera still
There’s nothing worse than a blurred or out of focus image. Make sure you take your time when setting up.
A tripod is a great way to insure a steady shot - especially when using a slow shutter speed setting (for waterfalls or a cool highway photo). If you don’t have a tripod - try looking for a level surface. The top of a low wall or even the ground are a good starting point.
Take your time
When taking the perfect picture, take your time. Give yourself space to set up properly, frame your picture and get the shot. Rushing isn’t going to do you any favours.
It’s funny how the brain works - We are naturally drawn to certain patterns. Through the positioning of a picture we can predict where you’ll look first and where your focus will be. Snazzy that.
Putting this knowledge to the test, there are a few quick composition techniques which - aside from what’s featured in the photo itself - we can use to make the pictures naturally pleasing for our viewers; whether it’s being viewed in a top gallery or at home on the settee with your mum.
Rule of thirds
One of the easiest composition tricks is the rule of thirds. By dividing your picture into clear sections, you’ll be able to shoot balanced and interesting photographs.
The guidelines themselves look like an almost 9 part grid - you may have noticed them when focusing your camera. When you align these lines with elements of your photo… you are applying the rule of thirds.
Sunsets when traveling are some of the absolute best. To get the best photo, avoid splitting the image half and half, as it won’t look as good. Instead, compose your shot with two-thirds sky, and one-third land or sea. It will make all the difference.
Sometimes when you look at the landscape there are natural lines. When you capture these in a photo your eyes will naturally follow the line to whatever is featured at the end. A really obvious and good example of this are roads going into the horizon or train tracks.
When traveling in the USA there are some fantastic landscapes and roads which seemingly continue forever. By pinpointing the road in the middle of your shot, the leading line will lift your eye line to the horizon - which if you’ve used the rule of thirds… is going to look spectacular.
Foreground middle and background
Generally looking to the foreground as well as the background will give more interesting elements to your photo.
Have you ever taken a picture of a building or a mountain and afterwards… looking at the picture, just felt it didn’t do justice to its magnitude?
We definitely have.
A technique to combat this is to have a clear foreground, middle and background. By focusing on something up close you’ll be able to show the true scale of the background. Many photographers will use an up close subject, like a rock, a branch or a sign to focus on. If there isn’t anything interesting around - then the best thing to use is people.
Having someone in the foreground you’ll be able to see the size and how epic the view is. Definitely something to consider when getting those must have snaps of the grand canyon.
Framing is a technique to bring a subject into focus. You’ll be able to find natural frames in quite a few places, if you know what you’re looking for.
A great example of a frame would be a doorway or arch. By taking a step back and using the frame to (literally) frame your focus - you’ll be capturing some really artsy stuff.
Although last in our composition list… one of the first questions you should ask yourself when shooting a picture is “what’s my focal point in this photo”... What do you want people to look at?
A focal point can be anything from a person to a building. There are some cool techniques when bringing attention to your focal point. Blurring either the foreground or background will really focus the viewer. Have a play with your camera settings and see what works for you.
The perfect shot
Being in the right place at the right time.
Wake Up Early, Stay Out Late
‘The early bird catches the worm’ - and in travel photography - if you want soft lighting, deserted landscapes and the freedom to experience the stillness, then this is the time you need to be out scouting your next pic.
Getting up early, although a bit rough, often gives you the freedom to capture some spectacular images. Grab that coffee, get an extra shot of caffeine added for good measure and go.
It’s honestly great for touristy spots, like Times Square, where you’ll find midday absolutely manic. Getting up with the sun will open up opportunities which you would never get later on in the day.
To persuade you further… dawn and dusk also lend themselves to some fantastic natural lighting - also known as the ‘golden hour’. Essentially nature’s filter, photos taken in the golden hour are accentuated by the soft, golden tones, it will give your photos a completely different element to everyone else's.
Caught on candid
There is nothing worse than an awkwardly posed photograph. Experiment with candid photography, for portraits it can give a much more natural feel. Make sure you ask permission first though!
Catching people in action is the way forward for a candid shot. Whether it be laughter, conversation or being hit by a wave it will give your a really fun, natural and dynamic photo.
Shooting in raw gives you the option to go back at any time and develop/edit it in a different way.
Raw is like having a master negative that contains much, much more data. It gives you the potential to get the most out of your photograph, otherwise it’s a bit like driving a supercar but never shifting out of first gear.
After all that work you’ve put into getting that super star shot, make sure you’re getting the highest levels of quality. You’re a pro now.
Most modern cameras especially DSLRs have RAW mode. If you’re snapping on your mobile, then no worries, you can still use RAW mode but you may need to download an app. - ‘VSCO camera’ and ‘RAW by 500px’ are two free apps we’ve found which will allow you to save in RAW but play around, explore and find one which suits you.
Pictures are all about storytelling
When taking your photos, think about the story you’re telling. What do you want to let the viewer know...
- Use the focal point to draw attention to your story
- Take our eyes to the important parts with the rule of thirds and leading lines
- Balance your picture with your foreground, middle and background
- Make sure it’s level
- Use time of day lighting to your advantage
- Shoot raw to give quality and editability
Back to the beginning, a picture says a thousand words… let's make those words count.